Friday, November 23, 2012

... And We're Off !!

It took a bit of patience, pre-planning, and a whole lotta' labor to put away the graveyard of Shingle Creek Manor this year without resorting to off site storage somewhere. All the while I plotted and planned for something even bigger this next year, of which I'm sure the reality of it not being possible with just the two of us will slap me in the face around mid-Summer. For now, the shop is back to normal and the props have been neatly put away, and the stress of Christmas is upon us...

We hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving and found plenty to thankful for. Although Christmas had already found it's way to our store shelves before Halloween had even arrived, the official starting flag was waved today with the ridiculousness of Black Friday. So like many of you we are running the race of gift buying, cookie making, Christmas card sending, food baking,  house decorating, before the big day panic that is Christmas. Good times....!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Shingle Creek Manor 2012

Hopefully everyone had a great Halloween!

We had some really nice weather except strong winds hindered us during setup and we never got setup until Halloween which limited my time to take photos. I did manage a few and tried to build a video out of them. I'll probably send it in to the Home Haunters Videos this year because I said I would, but I can do much better with more time to take photos.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Small Talk About the Weather...

So we really haven't much exciting to report about the progress of Shingle Creek Manor. Very mundane tasks being completed, fence building, prop painting, trying to put together a haunted tool shed for our caretaker. Our official setup date is the 29th.

We have however managed some Fall favorites such as Pumpkin Pancakes at the International House of Pancakes, visiting various Halloween stores and watching our seasonal programs, Making Monsters and Face Off (Roy was robbed!). Tonight we might pay a visit to "Celebration" the Disney created town not far from here. I hear reports of good yard displays going on there... we'll see.

Which brings me to the weather;  while I can empathize with my fellow haunters in the North East preparing for Hurricane Sandy, and I know of at least one yard haunter here that lost a major prop due to Sandy's wind gusts as she only skirted by Florida, we are very excited by the Halloween weather reports for our area!

There have been years where complimentary bottles of water went along with the treats for those youngsters brave enough to weather the Florida heat in a plastic or rubber mask and fabric costumes not designed to circulate air, but not this year! Weather predictions are for temperatures in the low 70's in the day and the high 50's at night! That's as close as we get to the normally great weather of the North in the Fall. So while my friends up North get ready for wind damage, flooding and long term power outages all I can say is, "been there, done that!"

Seriously though, celebrate Halloween early if you can and store your props if your in Hurricane Sandy's path. Above all, prepare for and expect the worst so you won't be surprised and be safe!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Go Team "Morbid Mayhem"

Been watching "Halloween Wars" on the Food Network again this year. While so far the pumpkin carvings haven't been as good as Ray Villafane's carvings were last year, the final creations have been really good and I thought the two teams going into the finals were well deserved.

Been cheering for Team "Morbid Mayhem", their pumpkin carver works with Villafane's Studios, but Team "Dead Men Walking" haven't created anything less  than spectacular. It would not surprise me if they win the finals next Sunday. If you haven't seen it before it out!

Morbid Mayhem

Small Scare Challenge from last years winners
Dead Men Walking

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Had promised my adopted Grandson I would take him to see Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" when the trailers first came out. He's only 2, ( ironically his birthday is on Halloween ) and we tested his ability to sit through his first movie on "Hotel Transylvania" a week or so ago with pretty good success. So today we went to see "Frankenweenie"!

I have to say I enjoyed it and it held his attention pretty good for most of the movie. The character "Sparky" was the star of the movie and was a lot of fun. "Mr. Whiskers", the cat and his owner provided me with some good laughs too.  It was a great Halloween type movie for children and adults. Although I was a bit surprised to see reviews where parents said it was not a children's movie. With the exception of a startle or two, the creatures were as tame as most that you would see on Saturday morning TV. If you like cartoons and or Tim Burton I think your going to like it. So find a child if you don't have one and go see it!

I wanted to share this find too. While searching for info on Frankenweenie a week or so back, I came across this masterpiece of "Sparky" on the "SprinkleBakes" blog. It amazes me at what some of these cake people can do! If she was local I'd have to beg her to make one for our Grandson's Halloween Birthday!

Great directions on the SprinkleBake Blog for those of you with baking talent

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"The Night Beckons" - AccuRadio

AccuRadio ( has a featured channel called, "The Night Beckons", continuous playing songs by Midnight Syndicate, my haunting music of choice this time of year for working in the shop and ambiance for our graveyard.

Most everyone is familiar with Midnight Syndicate but they've also recently completed a collaboration with female vocalist Destini Beard, who is really quite good. She has sort of  an Amy Lee (Evanescence) sound.

AccuRadio also has a continuous playing Halloween channel that has some toe tapping goodies like Johnny Cash, "Ghost Rider in the Sky" and Electric Light Orchestra, "Evil Woman". The site is free as is the app for your Ipad or Iphone, which is my favorite price. As of yet, I do not see "The Night Beckons" or any Midnight Syndicate on the  Ipad app though, only on the website.

Monday, October 15, 2012

First Corpsing

About finished up our tomb but we needed a withered decayed corpse to lay on top and give it some creep factor. Our corpse was just to have the remaining skin and bones and we had learned the plastic sheet corpsing technique at this years Florida "Make and Take" so gave it a try.

Tomb is done unless I can find some cheap candle sconces for either side of the skulls

This technique uses plastic painters sheets cut into manageable pieces and a hot air gun to melt the plastic into sections of skin on your favorite skeleton. Then rub and wipe off some wood stain to get the color you want. You can really go nuts with this technique and make big sections of flesh and decaying organs clinging to the bone but I just wanted some skin.

Upper torso is done except for a little airbrushing to darken the exposed spine and joints
We Cut and hot glued some hair from a wig to his scalp so he wouldn't suffer from Male Pattern Baldness. I used mostly 2 mil plastic sheet but also some .7 mil thinner stuff around the face and hands. Couldn't ask for a cheaper method. Two sheets of plastic and a small can of stain was about $10. The skeleton was the one I picked up last year at Walgreen's that the leg kept falling off.
Lower torso before stain is applied
If you need a good hot air gun for your projects, Harbor Freight has the one in the photo for about $25 with a coupon. This is it's second year of use with no problems and it works great with two levels of air and about seven levels of heat.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Details...

Gave our graveyard a bit more "neglected" detail this year with some vines woven through the fence panels. These are those vine wreaths you can buy at the craft store, soaked in water for a day, deconstructed, and then woven through the fence panel and allowed to dry. Pretty authentic look, can't make vines look any more real then by using ummm.. "vines"!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dollar Skulls

You have to appreciate the crafty mileage you can get out of those one dollar skull door knockers at the Dollar Tree store. We added one to the side of our column last year with the lower jaw and plastic knocker still in tact as a holder for a chain and lock. This year I cut the lower jaw and some teeth away and made some embellishments for the tomb we've been working on.

Oh yeah, "Thank You" Walmart for the ridiculously early Christmas decorations you've put out. I needed those blue C9 LED lights for my skulls!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Iniquitus

The first to rise from the buried cemetery that was disturbed by the ongoing construction at Universal Studios. These were the patrons of death that summoned all the other creatures on the streets of Halloween Horror Nights This year. Belinda managed several run-ins with these things and they were pretty intimidating. We determined that should there be a zombie apocalypse, everyone with a smart phone would be the first to die. It's hard to watch for zombies and stay current on Face Book, Twitter, emails, etc...

We had a blast at Halloween Horror Nights this year. Four maybe five of the houses were top notch, two were just "ok". Everyone agreed "Silent Hill" was in the top two. I've never even played the video game but I still enjoyed it. Something about screaming, faceless, nurses with giant syringes suddenly jumping out at you with that strobe light animated movement... VERY unnerving...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ghosting my Son

Started off our October "Ghosting" my son his girlfriend and her two year old son.
We had never heard of ghosting until moving into our neighborhood about 4 years ago and we got ghosted. It's called "You've been Ghosted" or "You've been Boo'd". There's a bunch of websites that explain it, but basically it's putting together a basket of some sort containing little Halloween treats and assorted items like candles, and other simple Halloween decorations. Then you place it on their doorstep, ring the bell, and run like hell. There's a little poem that wishes a Happy Halloween and explains to the recipient their job to make up two baskets then "ghost" their neighbors. There's a little ghost image that gets taped to your front window or door so you don't get re-ghosted. Nice little neighborly gesture for the holiday. We always put little blinky lighted things in our basket because it looks so cool for the little ones to see at their doorstep.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Missed October 1...WTH!

OK I got distracted and missed day one of "Count Down to Halloween". Maybe I can do some sort of blogger penance...

I did however watch both new episodes of Travel channel's "Making Monsters".  Actually I never saw the ads or previews because I don't watch Travel Channel that often, but it was scheduled on our DVR to record from last years episodes and sure enough I had two brand new episodes waiting for me on October 1! What a nice treat!

If you didn't watch it last year and enjoy Halloween prop building it's an excellent program about "Distortions Unlimited", a mom and pop monster making shop in Greeley, Colorado owned by and operated by Ed and Marsha Edmunds. They're always under some ridiculous time constraint to create and deliver a new prop, but it's fascinating to watch the builds and realize other people have bad luck sometimes trying to get their props together too!

So That's my excuse...I was watching TV...

Ed Edmunds airbrushing details on new zombie prop

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Behind the Screams" HHN22

Went to the Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights "Behind the Screams" RIP Tour this week. Got a lights on tour of three houses: "Gothic", which was absolutely amazing, a cathedral undergoing renovations guarded at night by gargoyles that come to life, is a very cool concept; " Dead Zone" a sort of  traditional  haunted mansion;  and Penn and Tellers " New'kd Las Vegas" 3D house. We're looking forward to visiting all the haunts in all their glory tonight.

Entry to "Gothic"

Exterior shot of "Dead End" house code named "creak" during construction

AMC "Walking Dead" display in park

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Halloween Reindeer...

Been tracking the forum posts of fellow yard haunters here in Florida.  Ms. "Zarine", whose home backs up to the main road, says she always has a nice turnout of viewers at Christmas. Seems a roof top Santa and reindeer draw passers-by around to see and appreciate the decorating at the front of her house. Halloween decorations have never gotten the same attention though. People drive by the rear of her home oblivious to the Halloween yard haunt at the front of her home. What to do....?

...Halloween Reindeer on the roof of course! Being a lover of "The Nightmare before Christmas", Zarine has set out to build the skeleton reindeer pulling Jack Skellington and his coffin sleigh! Is that cool or what?!

When I saw the photos of the first reindeer build and the saw the number of pieces of each I had to share. The first reindeer build is amazing! The plans also call for Jack's faithful companion "Zero" and his dog house. More photos to come as the build continues.

Good luck Ms. "Zarine"! BIG project but definitely an attention getter!

Zarine's first completed Halloween reindeer

That's 32 pieces hand cut and sanded per reindeer!

Monday, September 10, 2012

World Market Visit

Been a few years since I stepped inside a World Market store, to be honest I wasn't that impressed back then. We decided to take another peak inside a local store the other day as part of our annual Halloween reconnaissance. It turned out it was a really nice store, with a pretty big section of Halloween Decor, and even some unique stuff. If you have one near you, place them on your Halloween recon list. I don't think you will be disappointed.

So as I advanced past the Halloween section into the their Fall harvest decor section... I was drawn to a bright light shown down on a product display. Certain I heard the sound of angels rejoicing from the light, I moved forward to be met by the ultimate display of Fall spirit! Thank You World Market, I will return!

Lots and lots of Fall spirits, with pretty big stock of the Pumpkin Ale

A six pack of the "Angry Orchard" Apple and Ginger Hard Cider was taken prisoner during the recon. There were no was tasty!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Put Some White On Your Tombstones

This is our third year building our own tombstones. It seems like each year we get a little more bold with the techniques we've picked up from various artists in the yard haunt community. Probably no technique has taken as big a leap as "dry brushing" the white on the edges and highest details of each tombstone.  It doesn't necessarily have to be white, only a lighter color, but experimenting always brings us back to plain old white.

I think we first saw the technique in one of Terra Lair's videos on Halloween Forum. If you haven't seen any of them, check them out on YouTube under ScaryLadyVideos. (You have to love these people that create and teach us how to do some of what they do by making good videos... and for FREE!)

Anyways, at first we were a little sparing with dry brushing white over our paint combinations, after all it was suppose to look all dark and eery. After seeing how it looked more stone-like though we made sure each tombstone had some white dry.brushing. That first year, when we saw how the details popped under the lights, giving those sections or lettering a little more glow, it's become one of the most important parts of our paint schemes.

If you already dry brush your shaking your head and smiling, knowing how important it is. If your like me and had no idea, check out one of Terra's tombstone tutorials and put your white on!

Tombstone top to  your right has been dry brushed, the left side has only been sponged with the black over gray.

Little dark coloring used on the face but the shroud edges were given a bit more white for an extra depth under blue LED's

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Halloween Horror Nights 22

Details About the seven haunted mazes have been completely revealed. This year the park is one big "scare zone" with no safe areas between the haunted mazes... not sure I'm liking that too much. Last year was nice having areas to relax without fear of being attacked, mutilated, and or eaten...

I am looking forward to the "Gothic House" a cathedral under renovation with gothic arches, high ceilings, and attacking gargoyles. There is also a Universal "classic" monster house this year that should be pretty cool.

Lots of descriptions at the official site or at .

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Spirit Visit

Visited a local Spirit Store today. Although Belinda liked the swinging zombie girl, with that haunting, laughing, child rhyming sound that creeps people out, no sale today Spirit. Sorry.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ghost Skull Column

This was an ever evolving project that started out as one thing, and morphed into a stone column, with a revolving ghost skull that has risen from the fires of hell... well, something like that anyways! Belinda spent hours on the foam block stones and sculpting the inside, not to mention getting the paint just right so the red LED's would glow in the right areas. The wood frame started out as an aquarium canopy project gone bad
( must remember "measure two times, cut once") so it only required a few adjustments to become the Ghost Skull Column.

We're not happy with the skull quality for this project but no Halloween stores are open in our area yet. Possibility of fog too if we can find one that small.

I also made a video using some editing software on an Ipad so it could be seen revolving. It was my first attempt at video editing. I can see where that might get very addictive!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A New Head

We finally received our caretaker's head in the mail yesterday!!

After a visit to the Salvation Army Store and the Home Depot for building supplies, Belinda got the body built, less the hands and head. My part was to order the head from Caufield's ( my work never ends...) . More photos maybe a video once he's fully assembled!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Venomous Swan

Take a look at these cool photograph prints I found today that use one of the Skull Shoppe skulls. These are a couple sample works from Jane Egerton at "Venomous Swan". Checked out her Society 6 store today and there are a whole bunch of art prints that appeal to my inclination toward the macabre this time of year.
"Vanitas" Used with permission of Jane Egerton, all rights reserved

"Yellow" Used with permission of Jane Egerton, all rights reserved

Now I just need to convince Belinda we need one of these to make the annual Fall conversion of my wood shop to our prop shop be more Halloween-ish!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First completed Build 2012 Shingle Creek Manor

Belinda completed our first 2012 tombstone. The basic design inspired by a tombstone in Highgate Cemetery, London. She built it in three parts for easier storage. It's also the first coffin cover of our cemetery.

Added a little LED lighting in the garage for an idea of Halloween night look.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mini-Coffin for Willie

Seems fellow haunter of One Pine Cemetery, Cylon Frog Queen (CFQ) didn't have an appropriate home for her three foot skelly, "Willie". CFQ gave her haunter husband, Hamm, the raised eyebrow indicating this was unacceptable, and Hamm went to work building the first of his mini toe pinchers for a new Black Plague theme in their cemetery. Hamm says it was inspired by a design by Personally, I think it turned out darn good and especially dig the unique cross design on the lid! Now everyone is happy and Willie has a home in the One Pine Cemetery.